Happy Thursday, Illinois. The Cubs send World Series hero Kyle Schwarber packing. We continue to hate you, 2020.
If there’s one thing House Speaker Michael Madigan’s Democratic caucus has learned, it is patience.
Even though there are now 19 members who say they won’t re-elect Madigan as House speaker come Jan. 13, they also aren’t falling for House Minority Leader Jim Durkin’s offer to elect him instead.
After defendants in the ComEd bribery case pleaded not guilty Wednesday, Durkin held a news conference saying he’s got 45 votes lined up for speaker and encouraged 15 “reform-minded” Democrats to support him.
Democrats who spoke to Playbook said there’s no chance they’ll support Durkin. “I’m confident the next speaker will be a Democrat,” Rep. Ann Williams told Playbook.
Democratic state Rep. Emanuel “Chris” Welch, who heads the special legislative committee that’s also looking into claims of bribery, called Durkin’s move “political theater.”
Welch pointed to the irony that Durkin wants in-person hearings to examine the ComEd scandal, yet he hasn’t said a peep about meeting to pass virtual legislation to get legislative work done.
The 19 renegade Democrats, meanwhile, are not in a hurry to identify who they would elect as speaker either.
There have been plenty of discussions about what they want to see in terms of leadership — but they’re not naming names. They recognize that the field won’t open up until Madigan steps aside.
SCOOP: The Union League Club is making plans to sell pieces of its artwork, including its coveted Monet, to help it weather the economic blow from Covid-19.
“Key to the board’s decision is the inherent uncertainty of the length of the negative effects of the pandemic on the club’s operations and Chicago’s economy,” club President Nancy A. Ross told members in an email obtained by Playbook.
The board has approved the sale of Monet’s “Pommiers en fleurs” or “Apple Trees in Blossom,” though management is still hoping not to have to resort to selling.
The Union League, a comfortable hangout for politicos and business folks, has cut staff from 275 to 67 full-time employees. Senior management has taken 20 percent off their own salaries, and managers have taken a 10 percent cut. The club is renting out guest rooms as office space. It’s asked members to make extra donations — a move that raised $520,000. And it’s considering whether to assess a new fee on members to generate $1 million. Ross calls it “modest” but some people worry an assessment would destroy the club, forcing members to quit. ”It’s sad to think the club could close because it’s too proud to sell a Monet,” said one member.
The Club has $3.8 million cash on hand and owes about $17 million to Wintrust to pay off its debt and a mortgage. Operating revenues are now about $2.6 million per quarter.
Members say there’s a proposal to develop a fund that members could pay into to support the club, but there is concern about who would be liable for its debt if the club were to go under.
That leads back to selling the Monet. It’s a sensitive subject for members as the artwork is an iconic part of the club. It was painted in 1872 and exhibited in Paris in 1876 before arriving at the Art Institute of Chicago in 1895, according to a 2011 WTTW story about the painting. It was valued then at $1,500, then purchased and sold to the Union League for $500.
Today, it’s valued at between $5 million and $15 million. Though a Monet last year was auctioned for $110.7 million, it should be noted that that was one of the artist’s haystack paintings. Haystacks and water lilies have greater value, apparently, than apple blossoms.
Still, the painting’s sale would be enough to tide the club over until the economy picks up, members say, who grumble that the Union League wouldn’t be in this situation if it had been allowed to apply for Paycheck Protection Program funds. It was ineligible because of its 501(c)(7) social and recreational status.
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At the Office of Emergency Management and Communications at 9 a.m. to promote the services and resources available to keep residents safe during the winter months.
At the Thompson Center for the 2:30 p.m. Covid-19 update. Watch live
No official public events.
The Illinois Department of Public Health on Wednesday reported 238 new deaths and 9,757 new confirmed and probable cases of the coronavirus. That’s a total of 12,639 fatalities and 748,603 cases in Illinois. The preliminary seven-day statewide test positivity from Nov. 25 through Dec. 1 is 12.5 percent. Chicago’s positivity rate is at 11.6 percent.
— A record number of deaths: The Illinois Department of Public Health reported 238 additional deaths Wednesday — a new record for the most deaths the state has reported in one day. “In a news conference delivered Wednesday afternoon, Gov. JB Pritzker said that some data reported is a result of a delay from the past holiday weekend, which is likely a factor in the high number of deaths reported,” reports Northwest Herald’s Kelli Duncan.
… CDC recommends postponing holiday travel as Covid surges,” reports POLITICO’s Brianna Ehley.
— Chicago’s health care workers will be the first vaccinated, but that could take months: “The state’s vaccine distribution draft plan defines the first priority group as ‘critical workforce members who provide health care.’ The next group includes ‘staff and residents in long term care facilities’ and third is ‘critical workforce members who provide essential functions of society,’” reports WBEZ’s Becky Vevea.
… Pritzker says Illinois’ first Covid-19 vaccine allotment will stretch further than expected, reports Daily Herald’s Jake Griffin
— Lightfoot plans $450M in short-term borrowing to buy time for Congress to ride to the rescue: “The short-term borrowing is for ‘less than a year’ at an interest rate of 1.95 percent. If Congress ultimately approves replacement revenue for cities, a long-term, $1.7 billion debt restructuring will be dramatically reduced,” by Sun-Times’ Fran Spielman.
… Lightfoot’s reform agenda meets Covid’s economic fallout, writes Bloomberg’s Shruti Singh
— Chicago’s casino should be downtown, say interested developers: “Eleven firms are interested in building or operating a casino in Chicago — and eight told Mayor Lori Lightfoot that it should be downtown, according to a limited summary of the proposals submitted by firms released by the mayor’s office on Wednesday. That backs up the findings of a 2019 feasibility study that recommended that Chicago build a casino ‘in a tourist-centric location.’ … However, that could present a quandary for Lightfoot, who will face pressure from South and West side aldermen who want a casino in their wards,” by WTTW’s Heather Cherone.
— Did Lightfoot make a wager on the Chicago teachers strike? An email obtained by the Chicago Tribune seems to suggest that Mayor Lori Lightfoot and two aides placed bets on when the controversial teachers strike would end. “The Bet: 3 cigars and a bottle of scotch of the winner’s choosing,” wrote legal counsel Michael Frisch in an email, by Tribune’s Gregory Pratt.
— Watchdog: Chicago not enforcing recycling laws for big buildings: “Findings by Inspector General’s office mirror those detailed in 2019 by the BGA, which found lax enforcement and bureaucratic snafus have led to more recyclable materials from Chicago’s high-rises and commercial buildings being diverted to landfills,” by Better Government Association’s Madison Hopkins.
— Revs. Jackson, Pfleger back Infinity Covid strike: The strike entered its 10th day Wednesday as almost 700 SEIU Healthcare Illinois workers remain out at 11 Infinity facilities offering long-term care across northern Illinois. They’re demanding hazard pay and personal protective equipment in the pandemic, as well as adequate staffing and a $15-an-hour wage,” by One Illinois’ Ted Cox.
— Chicago plans to recall teachers and reopen schools, even if the majority of students stay home: “Chicago will soon get an updated barometer of its families’ wishes, with families of elementary and middle school students supposed to inform the district next week of their choice to continue learning virtually or return to campuses,” by Chalkbeat Chicago’s Cassie Walker Burke.
— ‘It’s just ridiculous’: Some Chicagoans frustrated by lack of mail service: Congresswoman Jan Schakowky blames Covid-19 but union leaders say the problems predate the pandemic, reports WGN/9’s Gaynor Hall.
— $1M grant to establish Chicago center named for first African American Catholic priest: “An annual grant of $200,000 will be provided by the Lilly Endowment Inc. for five years for staffing, programming and other related costs associated with creating and maintaining the the Tolton Spirituality Center,” by Tribune’s Katherine Rosenberg-Douglas.
— AS NICE AS PIE: Chicago bakery owner goes global in inspiring new documentary film series: Justice of the Pies bakery owner Maya-Camille Broussard goes global in a new documentary film series set to air next spring. ‘FIVE’ follows five female entrepreneurs in five countries across the world, ‘who have each set out to start a purpose-driven business to improve and uplift their communities,’” reports Tribune’s Louisa Chu. Here’s a tease to the doc
— Ald. Matt O’Shea’s fundraising Super Raffle just hit $155,000. The 19th Ward launched the raffle last month to raise funds for 39 local businesses that have been hit hard by Covid-19. Prizes include a Ford Escape S (or $15,000 in cash), a year of S&T Provisions Pizza, and thousands of dollars in gift cards — including to the businesses that will benefit from the raffle. Tickets are available through Dec. 18.
— How did your neighbors vote for president, Senate and the graduated-rate income tax amendment? Joe Biden won Illinois by nearly 17 percentage points, Sen. Dick Durbin sailed to reelection over Republican challenger Mark Curran and the graduated-rate income tax amendment fell by a wide margin… But break down the vote behind those apparent landslides into the smallest electoral pieces — precincts — and a more nuanced picture emerges,” write the Tribune’s Chad Yoder and Jonathon Berlin. Includes searchable city and suburban map
— IHSA doesn’t expect any sports to resume until 2021: "Given Governor Pritzker’s current mitigations, the Board has no expectation of starting low risk winter sports prior to January," said Illinois High School Association Executive Director Craig Anderson. "The Board and IHSA staff will continue to monitor the Tier 3 Resurgence Mitigation in effect currently. When there is a timeline for the state to emerge from these restrictions, the Board is prepared to restart lower risk winter sports quickly." via The Pantagraph’s Jim Benson
— In Illinois, more than one-third of PPP funds, meant for small businesses, went to larger companies that got loans of $1M or more. “There were 36 businesses in Illinois that received the maximum $10 million, including the publicly traded Chicago-based restaurant chain Potbelly, which returned its first $10 million loan in April under public pressure, but then reapplied in August as demand and scrutiny waned. Other $10 million loan recipients include Alpha Baking in Chicago, MVP Workforce in Deerfield, the American Academy of Pediatrics in Itasca and Illinois Bone & Joint Institute in Des Plaines,” reports Tribune’s Robert Channick. Includes searchable list
— FIRST IN PLAYBOOK: The Land & Liberty Coalition, which is part of the Conservative Energy Network, is launching an Illinois chapter. Land & Liberty describes itself as a Midwestern grassroots organization that partners with local citizens, landowners, clean energy advocates and policymakers “to promote common sense policies that advance renewable energy while protecting and benefiting local communities.” Jackson Keith, director of the Land & Liberty Coalition, said renewable development in Illinois is on the rise. “Local residents are experiencing new economic development opportunities, local job growth and security, and additional tax revenues for schools, roads, and emergency services,” he said in a statement.
— He was a cog in Madigan’s political machine. Now he’s got a role in the ComEd scandal: “Before becoming a commissioner, [Ed] Moody had a six-figure public job, as a court coordinator in the office of the county’s chief judge, Timothy Evans, and he was highway commissioner in south suburban Worth Township, records show. But the newly released ComEd emails and federal court records detail how Moody padded his taxpayer-funded salaries significantly – thanks to a consulting deal with the state-regulated electric utility. The deal illustrates how ComEd used its lobbyists as pass-throughs to funnel money to Madigan allies,” by WBEZ’s Dan Mihalopoulos.
— 4 former ComEd execs and lobbyists plead not guilty in bribery scheme: “Former ComEd President and CEO Anne Pramaggiore — who arguably once was Chicago’s most powerful female business executive — and top Madigan adviser Michael McClain were arraigned on charges of bribery conspiracy, bribery and willfully falsifying ComEd books and records. Also appearing in federal court via video conference to answer those charges were ComEd’s former top in-house lobbyist, John Hooker, and former company lobbyist Jay Doherty, the one-time head of the City Club of Chicago public affairs organization,” by WBEZ’s Dave McKinney and Tony Arnold.
— Firings of two officers in Laquan McDonald case upheld in Cook County court: “A pair of Cook County judges have decided not to overturn the firings of two Chicago police officers accused of helping to cover up the fatal shooting of teenager Laquan McDonald. The judges, handling the cases separately, affirmed last month the decisions of the Chicago Police Board to fire Sgt. Stephen Franko and Officer Daphne Sebastian, records show. They were among four cops fired by the police board last year for infractions that included filing or approving false or misleading reports on the Oct. 20, 2014, shooting,” by Tribune’s Jeremy Gorner.
Illinois weed sales on pace to top $1 billion in 2020, expert says: “The prediction came as the state announced another $75 million in recreational sales took place in November, similar to the record haul in October,” by Sun-Times’ Tom Schuba.
A new report says Illinois should change how it funds higher-ed: “The Partnership for College Completion argues that recessions are a rare opportunity to make college access and cost more equitable,” writes NPR Illinois’ Peter Medlin.
Former McDonald’s CEO seeks $100M to help Black educators: “Retired McDonald’s president and CEO Don Thompson and his wife, Liz, recently launched a new initiative through their Chicago-based nonprofit, Cleveland Avenue Foundation for Education, to raise $100 million to help Black educators nationally. The goal of the 1954 Project, named for the year the U.S. Supreme Court ruled on the school segregation case Brown v. Board of Education, is to raise money through philanthropy to support Black educators and education leaders over the next five years,” writes Crain’s Wendell Hutson.
— Rep. Jan Schakowsky is reappointed House senior chief deputy whip: “I am beyond honored and humbled to be reappointed to the role of Senior Chief Deputy Whip for the 117th," she said in a statement. "This role has been granted to me by my friend, House Majority Whip James Clyburn, who returns to this Congress as the man who helped deliver our President-elect Joe Biden. I appreciate the confidence and trust he has in me to serve as his Senior Chief Deputy Whip, and help deliver the votes we will need as we ‘build back better.’”
— Rep. Adam Kinzinger, a Republican, created buzz Wednesday night in the Twitterverse when he tweeted to President Donald Trump: "Time to delete your account." The tweet came after Trump’s 46-minute rambling speech from the White House about the election.
— Trump’s Georgia rally sparks GOP anxiety, by POLITICO’s Marc Caputo
— RNC invites 2024 hopefuls to January meeting in show of neutrality toward Trump, by POLITICO’s, by POLITICO’s Alex Isenstadt
— The conspiracy theory that could hand Joe Biden the Senate, by Rich Lowry for POLITICO
— Biden urged to change immigration policy to send more health workers to Covid hot spots, by POLITICO’s Tucker Doherty
Today at 5 p.m.: Chicago businessman Reyahd Kazmi is among the co-chairs of a fundraiser led by DNC Vice Chair Michael Blake in conversation with Rev. Raphael Warnock, one of the Georgia Senate candidates facing a run-off election in January. Blake and Kazmi are friends from their days working on Barack Obama’s 2008 campaign. Details here
— Tim Samuelson, the city’s first and only cultural historian, retires: “His ability to really engage with people, he brings history to life. He’s done so much good for the city,” said one fellow historian. Bob Chiarito reports for the Sun-Times.
— Robert Muriel, director of the Illinois Department of Insurance, announced Wednesday that he’s leaving his position. Muriel was appointed to the position by Governor J.B. Pritzker in March 2019. IDOI’s Chief Deputy Director of Product Lines Shannon Whalen will fill in as Interim acting director.
Jan Brent, a giving suburban Montessori preschool teacher, dead of Covid-19 at 72: “Suffering terribly, she urged her son: ‘Do everything you can to protect yourselves,’ he wrote in a much-shared Facebook post. ‘I don’t want anyone I love to go through this,’” writes Sun-Times’ Maureen O’Donnell.
Cook County Chief Information Officer Tom Lynch was named “GoldenGov: County Executive of the Year” as part of StateScoop Magazine’s LocalSmart Awards. Nominees were sourced from community submissions, and winners were chosen through online voting.
WEDNESDAY’s GUESS: Congrats to Lt. Bill Conway, senior intelligence director of the European Command — and former candidate for Cook County State’s Attorney, for correctly guessing that former Sen. Mark Kirk was an intelligence officer for electronic warfare squadrons and claimed incorrectly that he was selected as the Navy’s Intelligence Officer of the Year when in fact the award had been given to his entire shop.
Political consultant Lance Trover, Newsy digital content producer Meg Hilling, content strategist Neal Ungerleider, and Chicago-area screenwriter and film industry pro Lyn Vaus.
December 3, 2020 at 07:44AM